PESHAWAR, Sep 19 (APP):The massive surge in the country’s population to the tune of 207.774 million has exerted enormous pressure on all socio-economic sectors including housing and time has come to launch new mega housing projects in all major cities under government patronage to provide affordable residential facilities to poor and homeless people.
Pakistan being one of the high-fertility developing countries with a large proportion of youth and children had a population of only 33 million in 1950, ranking it 14th populous country in the world.
But today, the country’s population has climbed to record 207.774 million in 2017, making it the 5th most populous country of the world after China, India, USA and Indonesia.
The 6th Population and Housing Census 2017 has revealed 77.774 million increase in the country’s population with a staggering growth rate of 2.4pc against 130million population in 1998 census besides registeration of 32.205 million households in the last census. Intrestingly, the country’s predominant majority population of around 132.189 million (63.6%) are living in rural areas against 65.6% in 1998, registering 3pc increase in migration of people from villages to urban areas.
Likewise, the urban population stands at 75.58 million, which is about 36.4% of the country’s population in 2017 against 32.52pc in 1998, showing an upward enhancement of 3.88%. The formidable challenge of overpopulation is also confronted by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a record 30.052 million people and 3.845 million households with an annual growth rate of 2.89pc during 1998-2017.
Similarly, only 0.558million households and 5.01million people with annual growth of 2.41pc in erstwhile FATA, and 40.269million people with 3.99pc high growth rate in Peshawar were recorded during 2017 census.
“The findings of 6th population and housing census 2017 is alarming. We need a multifecated approach to tackle the growing housing problem on priority basis in the wake of population explosion,” said Muhammad Waqas Anjum, Financial Expert, Provincial Housing Authority (PHA) while talking to APP.
He said Pakistan was currently facing a substantial shortfall of 10 million housing units and if population growth continues with the same pace, then additional 10 million units would be required by 2030. Waqas said,”demand of new units was growing at a rate of six lac per year and if we add to it 500,000 units to clear existing backlog of 10 million units in next 20 years, then we will need to build 1.1 million units per annum.”
“After food and clothing, housing is the third most fundamental human need. We need to change our approach by launching small residential and flats projects on pattern of China in all our major cities on priority basis imperative to slash properties’ prices and provide affordable housings facilities to the marginalized,” said Manzoorul Haq, former Ambassador of Pakistan while talking with APP.
He said the failure in proper implementation of population policies at grassroots level, inadequate system for monitoring and proper regulations of family planning and population welfare programs besides lackluster approach of the successive regimes towards this critical issue had adversely affected health and education delivery beside making negative effects on agricultural productivity, economic and housing sectors.
Ambassador Manzoor said Pakistan would have to drastically reduce its current population growth rate through effective advocacy and implementation of population welfare programs on ground besides creating job opportunities for people to achieve the status of a high income country.
“The current pace of increase in population is a major obstacle in way of quality education and health services besides economic, infrastructure and industrial devolopment,” saying the issues of corruption, unemployment, poverty and price hike cannot be addressed unless controlling population explosion.
Afghan refugees, migration of tribesmen of erstwhile FATA and people of less-developed districts like Batagram, Kohistan, Tank and Chitral have brought housing sector under a lot of stress in Peshawar. Apart from Hayatabad township developed in 80s and the recently established Regi Model Town, no other significant housing project in public sector has been started in Peshawar, resulting a significant increase in prices and rent of the residential units.
“I had paid about Rs4 million hard earned money as a house rent during last 20 years and there is no let up in this painful activity up till now,” AQ Khan, an official of a semi Government organization in Peshawar told APP. He said Naya Pakistan Housing Program (NPHP) launched by incumbent Govt is the ray of hope for salaried, poor, laborer and homeless people.Poor and she lterless have pinned high hopes from PTI flagship NPHP and that is why he had applied for this landmark housing program like hundreds of thousands of others to become master of his own house and live a dignified life said Khursheed Khan, a resident of Nowshera
Muhammad Waqas Anjum, Financial Expert PHA said nearly 7,50,000 housing units would be constructed under NPHP in KP, saying a large chunk of land were identified for it.
Waqas said mega housing projects ie Peshawar Model Town and CPEC City in Nowshera were approved by KP Govt to address housing problems. “With assistance of FWO, CPEC City would be constructed on 80,000 kanals for which 40,000 kanals land has already been acquired and the possession of the remaining 40,000 kanals is under process.”
He said substantial number of housing units would be constructed in Hangu and at Dangram Swat on 218 kanals under NPHP. As many as1877 plots are being established in four mega residential colonies in Peshawar, Nowshera, Abbottabad and Kohat under KP Govt Khpal Kor (own) housing scheme.
Waqas said persons with disabilities, martyrs of police, widows and terrorism affected people of erstwhile Fata would be given special relief in payment process under NPHP. He said PHA would perform facilitator’s role in NPHPand extend full cooperation to C&W Department, FWO, Housing and other lines departments for speedy materialization of the project.